First 480m of the European XFEL tunnel system are completed (Sep. 2010)


Pleased and happy: the tunnel builders with the two patronesses (left: Imke Gembalies, right: State Minister Dr. Herlind Gundelach) in front of the cutterhead of TULA. The rest of the borer is still located inside the newly completed tunnel section.

After less than two months, the tunnel boring machine TULA broke through the wall of its reception shaft and reached the first milestone - 480 meters of the tunnel system for the European XFEL are thus completed.

When the tunnel boring machine TULA (TUnnel for Laser) set out for its “maiden trip” at the beginning of July, it was not at all sure that it would reach its goal on schedule eight weeks later. As it is, the old miners’ proverb “It’s always dark in front of the pick” also applies to tunnel building. How long the machine will actually take depends on the composition of the soil and on the presence of unknown potential obstacles underground. And of course, the skill of the tunnel builders in guiding the colossus through the earth, compensating for a little unevenness or “sensing” possible changes in soil composition in time, is equally important. To do this, they sometimes even have to slip in diving suits into the slurry in front of the machine to check the tools fixed on the cutterhead.

During the coming weeks, TULA will be dismantled, the various parts transported back to Schenefeld and then reassembled again for its second assignment direction Osdorfer Born. The building of the 594-metres-long tunnel section will begin in early November.

(...from Joint news of DESY and European XFEL GmbH, 3 Sepetember 2010)

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